Forster’s motion for permanent LGBTI museum fails to pass
Liberal Councillor Christine Forster’s motion to City of Sydney Council to establish a permanent LGBTI Pride Museum in the Oxford Street precinct failed to pass a Council vote last night.
Forster had made the motion in the hopes that City of Sydney Council would provide a space, resources and expertise to help staff and run a museum come gallery space to attract visitors from around the globe and honour the history of Sydney’s LGBTI community in its spiritual home.
With Sydney having just hosted its most successful Mardi Gras parade in years, Forster told SX she believed the time was right for a museum to “showcase our city and its gay and lesbian community, culture and history”.
Forster expressed disappointment the proposal had been voted down by council.
“The idea of a permanent LGBTI exhibition space or museum on Oxford Street has been widely discussed in the Sydney LGBTI community since at least 2012. The many, many community members with whom I've discussed the proposal have expressed broad and enthusiastic support. Clover Moore, however, still needs to be convinced.”
Forster said despite bipartisan support for her motion, the council would not investigate her motion to provide a business case for such a project.
“According to Clover Moore and her party, a community-supported museum could only be established with financial support from the state and federal governments,” Forster told SX. “Council donated $1 million to the redevelopment of the Museum of Contemporary Art and plans to spend more than $7.5 million turning the iconic T2 building in Taylor Square into a bike hub, but will not even investigate the possibility of a permanent GLBTI exhibition on Oxford Street.”
Following Forster’s motion, the Lord Mayor introduced a further motion to consider proposals from the community for an LGBTI museum.
Forster said she is now focusing her efforts on working with the community to draft a proposal for a permanent space.
“I will now continue to work with the LGBTI community to develop a proposal that will convince the Lord Mayor of the merits of a permanent LGBTI exhibition space/museum on Oxford Street. The museum would be a lasting legacy asset for Sydney. It would attract local, national and international visitors and be an important addition to the City's cultural, social and economic life.”
Sydney Independent MP Alex Greenwich commented it was great news the council would consider proposals from the community and offered his assistance to work with community members.
“It’s great the City of Sydney’s agreed to consider proposals from the community for an LGBTI museum and then work towards funding with State and Federal Governments,” Greenwich told SX, saying he would work with community groups interested in developing such a proposal. Although he said as yet "no-one has raised it with me as a priority to date”.
Greenwich said the cost of running a museum should be a consideration for any proposal. “It is important to note that the international experience is that museums can cost millions and require a great deal community involvement. As someone who has headed up LGBTI NGOs, I know how tough things are in the current political climate under a federal Coalition government, and there is a question for me whether now is the time to divert such funds and attention to a project of this scale.”
He added: “I would encourage Councillor Forster to engage with LGBTI groups about what their priorities are over the next 12 months and how she can use her profile to remove some of the blockages to reform that her party creates.”
City of Sydney Labor Councillor Linda Scott, who seconded Forster’s motion, has re-affirmed her support for the City to fund an LGBTI museum in Sydney.
Scott said the idea of a museum had been championed by many members of the community, including Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the surviving 78ers.
“The history and stories of the LGBTI community in Sydney deserve to be told. Telling the history in this fight for equality is important, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for the City to play a leading role in the formation of an LGBTI museum in the City of Sydney,” said Scott.